I was hoping that we dealt with the centipede problem after killing the centipede in our bed last night. Then this morning Trinh discovered this five-inch monster hiding inside a dress hanging on the bedroom door. I unsuccessfully tried to kill it with my shoe, but it just ran under the bed. Trinh ran right after it, somehow squeezing herself under the bed armed with the other shoe, pounding the centipede until it mostly stopped moving. Damn those things are hard to kill.
What an awful last couple of days. I went back to China on Friday to try to rescue a project in which the vendor has given us five incorrect samples previously and then gave me two more incorrect samples before shutting down for a week for the national day holiday. And then I cut my thumb badly when a glass container exploded in my hands. Finally got back home and was awakened by a centipede crawling on me in our bed. The thing bit me while I was trying to kill it, leaving two distinctive fang marks on my finger. This is the second time one of these things bit me, and I was fortunate that it was not too painful. Some people are not so lucky.
Trinh has been asking me for months to make bolognese sauce. One of my favorite deals in Hong Kong is the HKD 50 parma ham ends that occasionally appear for sale at Oliver’s Delicatessen – the impetus for the sauce. The ingredients are simple, but very time-consuming to make right. The first step is to make a soffritto of onions, garlic, carrots, and celery (everything diced as small as possible), sautéed in olive oil until the onions start to caramelize. Then add the diced prosciutto and minced beef. When the meat is brown, in goes about half a cup of milk. Once that’s reduced, add a cup of red wine, some chopped fresh tomatoes and some chicken stock. Simmer for at least three hours until it is good and thick and the meat and carrots are the only still-recognizable ingredients. Mmmm, that’s good! (As a side note, L’Accademia Italiana della Cucina says the sauce should properly be made with white wine, not red, and tomato paste rather than fresh tomatos.)
Published 20 September 2007
I’ll be in the Bay Area for about ten days starting on 12 October. First time back since last year!
We had a very successful housewarming / Trinh’s going away / Elizabeth’s birthday party last night. An incredible amount of delicious food! So much that I was completely stuffed on barbecued ribs, vegetable kabobs, pasta salad, chả giò, càng cua bọc tôm, gỏi đu đủ, chè ba màu and birthday cake by halfway through and didn’t even try the bún chả that Lan made or the ginger mackerel that Trinh marinated and Jimmy barbecued. We got a chance to meet our new neighbors Diane (who teaches yoga), and Neil & Trang (a Scottish/German/Vietnamese couple). I only took a couple of pictures, but Elizabeth has got some good ones on her weblog.
Published 14 September 2007
Gwangmyeong , Korea , Seoul
I’m finally finishing up the last bits of printing for Blue Planet Run today. Here are some things I learned about Korea this week:
• People in Korea spend a whole lot of time brushing their teeth. Which is a
good thing, since Koreans have about the highest per capita consumption of
garlic and chilies in the world.
• Although the pamphlet in the hotel says civil defense exercises take place
on the 15th of every month, it really only happens twice a year.
• The spiky armor and astroturf wrapped around the utility poles both serve
the same purpose, to discourage posting of bills.
• If you are a preferred customer at the sashimi joint, they’ll give you a dollop
of the real wasabi. Hooo-weee, that clears the head!
Published 12 September 2007
Gwangmyeong , Korea , Seoul
Tags: food, work
Yesterday, I was discussing traditional Korean food with Mimi and Irving at the printing company here. They mentioned a restaurant specializing in octopus right around the corner. “Maybe not suitable for you, though,” Mimi explained. “It is very cramped, not very clean, you have to sit on the floor, and the food is extremely spicy.” Perfect on all counts! After convincing them that it really did sound exactly like my kind of place, we went for lunch today. The proprietor pulled a couple baby octopodes out of the tank and converted them into Nakji Bokum, spicy stir-fried octopus. They brought us each a big metal bowl with sesame oil in the bottom, along with small dishes of kimchi, bean sprouts, shredded radish, shredded boiled potatoes, pickled daikon, and shredded roasted seaweed. Everything is dumped into the bowl with rice and mixed together. Spicy! Irving said people in Korea like to drink soju with this dish. I think people in Korea like to drink soju with every dish.
Published 12 September 2007
Hong Kong , Victoria Harbor
We had a lot of rain at the end of the trip to Boracay. It turned out to be the edge of Typhoon Pabuk, which had just passed between the Philippines and Hong Kong. Luckily it was long gone by the time we returned to Hong Kong. Not realizing that the storm had made a U-turn and was heading right back at us, Terran and I headed to Lantau for a day of sightseeing. Shortly after arriving in Mui Wo, the sky turned dark and winds whipped up, blowing over plants and store displays. Thinking it might be a good time to return to Lamma, we returned to the ferry pier and were told that the ferry to Central wasn’t running. We found our way to a bus to the MTR, which was particularly crowded. Hong Kong Station was a zoo – the platforms were completely full of people and the entry turnstiles were shut down. Eventually, we meandered our way to the Lamma ferry pier, just as the metal gate was being lowered. Ducking under the gate, we discovered that a Signal 8 typhoon alert was in effect, and that all of Hong Kong was shut down and everyone told to go home at once. We also happened to have made the last ferry with seconds to spare. Terran and I rode out the storm on the outside deck of the ferry with a few other crazies (including photographer Steve Cray, whose blog I’ve linked to here). It was a wild ride!